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Swedish Cowboy Church Accused of Abusive Practices

The Swedish Local reports on a controversial religious group:

A southern Swedish religious congregation based at a cowboy-themed conference centre has been accused of harbouring a violent and extreme religious sect.

…A show aired on Tuesday by public service broadcaster SVT contained interviews with former Kingdom Center members who accuse the group of being a sect, guilty of performing violent exorcism ceremonies and using child labour, Expressen reports.

…The cowboy-theme park may look like a line-dancing paradise, but according to defectors, life under parish pastor Christer Segerliv is far from heavenly.

Segerliv denies the claims, and in fairness it should be noted that there is often some hostility towards American-style Christian groups in Sweden (noted in Simon Coleman’s study of Ulf Ekman, The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity). And Kingdom Center certainly is American-style, looking more like a Tex-Mex restaurant than a church and with Segerliv apparently known as “the Sheriff of Lone Star”. The Center’s website has some background:

Pastor Christer Segerliv is under the covering of Pastor Sunday Adelaja, pastor of the Embassy of the blessed Kingdom of God in Kiev, Ukraine and travels with him frequently around the globe. Kingdom Center is also connected to the emerging Cowboy Church movement in America, one of the leaders in this movement is Pastor Coy Huffman (Kingdom Cowboys).

The Associated Baptist Press reported on “Cowboy Churches” just a few weeks ago:

…boots placed at the back of the worship space as receptacles sometimes replace collection plates and offertories. Baptisms often take place in horse troughs. And, of course, country/Western, Southern gospel and bluegrass music often feature prominently in worship services.

…The cowboy-church movement has its roots in Pentecostal ministries from the middle of the 20th century, but has spread significantly among evangelicals — and especially Southern Baptists in rural areas — in the last 10 years.

…Cowboy-church leaders from other states have, with Texas leaders’ help, recently organized an American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches…There are also cowboy churches popping up under the Cowboy Church Network of North America, which was started in 2004. It became affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board in 2005.

The reporter seemed surprised that the movement had reached Canada, let alone Sweden.

Sunday Adelaja, meanwhile, was featured on this blog here. Adelaja, a Nigerian immigrant who has been phenomenally successful in Ukraine, apparently has hundreds of Ukrainian pastors under him, and he enjoys some support from politicians. During the “Orange Revolution” he and Ted Haggard collaborated on a CD on the subject which was distributed in the USA by Focus on the Family.

Segerliv also founded a school, which in July won an appeal against a decision to close it down.

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)

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